September 29, 2009

Tuesday Practice Notebook

The Georgia Tech football team got back into full pads for the first time this week as they get ready to face the spread offense of Mississippi State on Saturday night in Starkville. Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack says the defense looks good coming out of a very impressive performance against North Carolina last week, but he maintains there is plenty of room for improvement.

"I thought we made a lot of improvement from a week ago for sure," Wommack said. "The kids worked hard, but we have a long way to go. We have some guys who have not played in certain positions, but we can certainly get a lot better."

Wommack would not tip his hand about the defensive approach this week given they are facing an offense that uses some three-plus receiver sets. The Jackets will probably stick with the 4-3 defense that worked well against the Tar Heels.

"We won't give any secrets away," Wommack joked.

Last week, cornerback Rashaad Reid made his debut as the free safety and the Jackets could be without the other two main free safety options, Cooper Taylor and Dominique Reese who are both injured, so Wommack will still work Reid at safety. Wommack said overall Reid played well for a first time safety and he was pleased with aspects of his performance.

"A little bit of it was unnatural for him because he has never really played the spot," he said. "He did some good things. Other than a couple of plays, he fitted up real nice and he was more physical than I thought he would be, so that was good. I am not sure if Dominique will be back and the doctor has not made that decision. We will see how that goes throughout the rest of the week."

Weakside linebacker Sedric Griffin made the switch from weakside to strongside linebacker last week and Wommack was also pleased with the senior's performance.

"Sed has pretty good awareness if he gets a few reps under his belt and he did a good job," he said.

In Georgia Tech's wins over Jacksonville State and North Carolina, the Jackets stuffed the run and that is the main focus this week in practice with a very skilled Bulldog running attack staring them down.

"I think with any team and especially this one, their success comes from running the football. They are averaging over 200 yards rushing and 151 passing. They want to run the football just like they do at Florida," Wommack said. "The scheme is very similar to Florida's scheme and they have a lot of different wrinkles they use to run the ball. We have to stop the run."

The defensive staff has been pulling film from as far back as Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen's days at Utah with Urban Meyer. Wommack says playing against the option in fall camp should help because many of the defensive reads are similar.

"We looked at Florida and Utah over the summer," Wommack said. "There are some similarities to our offense, but I am not going to tell you what we are keying on because then they will change it for the game. There are some things we think we are able to see and hopefully we can go out and execute our defense. Hopefully our guys are starting to refresh a little bit and this is our first week we have been able to get into our normal schedule."

Johnson pleased with his new snapper

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson is faint with praise for his players, but he singled out freshman long snapper Tyler Morgan during his weekly press conference Tuesday.

"Tyler is someone we indentified fairly early as a guy we wanted in our program," Johnson said. "He had the talent to be a fairly good long snapper. When they came to camp, Jeff Lentz performed pretty well and Tyler was a freshman. We were thinking that if Lentz can do it, then we could redshirt Tyler. After the first few games went along, we were not consistent in our long snap. Besides the one off the head, Chandler [Anderson] was catching them all over the place. Tyler is a little better cover guy. I was proud of him. I thought he came in and made some good snaps."

The former Whitewater High School star was a highly coveted walk-on and the Jackets beat out several top schools to land him.

"There were a lot of people that wanted Tyler to come to their school," Johnson said. "He came over for an official visit and that is how he ended up here. He is a walk-on and not on scholarship."

During his first career punt snap, Morgan raced down the field and was able to tackle the Tar Heel returner as well.

"I am sure he was excited. It was his first time. I am sure the butterflies were churning," Johnson joked. "It was a memorable first play for him. You make the snap and then get downfield and make the tackle."


Injuries

The prognosis for Robert Hall playing again this season looks a little grim after coach Johnson commented on his status during his weekly press conference Tuesday. Hall has an MCL tear and the doctors fear the ACL may be significantly damaged as well.

"They are going to scope him in four weeks," Johnson said. "They will see if the ACL has to be done. We know it is a MCL. If the ACL doesn't have to be done then there is chance he can come back."

Linebacker Kyle Jackson will go under the knife tomorrow in Charlotte to repair his lisfranc injury and his season is officially over.

"Kyle is having surgery tomorrow. He is through for the year," Johnson said. "We had two or three Liz Frank Joint injuries at the Naval Academy. The first time I have heard of this injury was at Navy. We may have had some at Georgia Southern but nobody knew what it was. I think they vary by degree. With Kyle's, they thought it would heal itself. There was not much of a separation. If there is clear separation you would go in a heal it. Because his was not separated, they thought to let it heal on its own but it never did."

Cooper Taylor, Reese and guard Joseph Gilbert missed time from practice on Tuesday due to injuries.

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